Pancakes in Paris – Craig Carlson

It seems inevitable now that an American would leave California to live in Paris, France, and start an American-style breakfast diner called Breakfast in America, and that it would be a great success. With hardly a bump in the road, no detours, just a smooth, straight road to a man’s dream.

Insert a throaty French laugh here: Oh-ho-ho! Au contraire, mes amis.

Yes, just about everything went wrong on Craig Carlson’s path to glory. As hilariously detailed in his first book, Pancakes in Paris, the author took an unusual route to his life’s calling. Growing up in Connecticut, moving to LA as a hopeful screenwriter, than gambling it all to open a breakfast place in a strange land. Why breakfast? He loved pancakes, bacon, hash browns and his grandmother’s scrambled eggs – none of which was available in the City of Light.


So while in California, he lined up investors. First, the “angel investors” who were so loaded that just one could supply the needed $100,000 to get going. No luck. Then the smaller, $5,000 investors. No luck. Turns out that Carlson didn’t know enough to “ask for the order.”

Eventually, though, he learned to ask, and the smaller investments came his way. Although some could only afford $1,000. To which he sighed and said, Oui.

The whole Breakfast in America (BIA) story is laid out like an awesome brunch buffet, seasoned with Carlson’s tragicomic tone. Mon Dieu! The ups and downs of running a restaurant. French bureaucracy, immigrant workers with fake papers, incompetent managers, the Scottish waiter who made death threats, the night Carlson spent in a Paris jail.

You really don’t want to spend the night in a Paris jail.


I labored for ten years in food service and could relate to some of Carlson’s experiences. But not as an owner. I can only imagine the strong heart, head and lungs it must take to be that guy. And do it, every day, pretty much forever.

There are now three BIA’s in Paris. If I ever go, I’d like to visit each one. Pancakes here, French Toast there, and possibly CC’s Big Mess at the third. (The recipe’s in the back of the book, by the way)

Of course, I’d always ask for the Bottomless Mug O’ Joe. Because that’s what you do in France.


About meremention

Resident of the Granite State, I am a freelance writer who also toils as a research analyst.
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4 Responses to Pancakes in Paris – Craig Carlson

  1. Undersquid says:

    I’m not sure if you spoiled the ending for me when you revealed that there are now three BIA in Paris, because you also answered my question, “if / when I go to Paris, will this place still exist?

    I love breakfast so much, sometimes I have it for dinner. It’s good to know I can now do that in Paris too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. meremention says:

    Yes, I have revealed the murderer – it was the Diner! Oh well. Going out to breakfast is one of my favorite things, and breakfast for dinner, agreed, is awesome. Thanks!


  3. Lee-Ann Larson says:

    I’m glad Carlson ultimately succeeded! I have been to Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris, which is also popular with Americans.


    • meremention says:

      Thanks Lee-Ann. I actually went to the City Grille today and had my favorite Belgian Waffle with NH-made maple syrup. Worth the wait! I would like to visit that wine bar too, thanks for the tip.


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